In Li Cunxin’s autobiography ‘Mao’s Last Dancer’, there are a series of events about Li growing up in rural Shandong province. It clearly shows the readers his impressive childhood. We can see everywhere is full of love and in Li’s family, although his family wasn’t rich. I have a better life than Li and my family is also crowded with happiness. Love always exists in a family, no matter rich or poor. Our life is affected deeply by family’s love on our way of developing as a person.
Sharing food in the family is a way of conveying love. Li’s family had to fight for survival. There was always not enough food for everyone. At meal times, Li’s parents gave food to each other. Li’s father is the breadwinner in the family, so his health is most important. Li’s mother left the best food for Li’s dad, but he said he wasn’t hungry and passed it back to Li’s mum. Li’s parents would eat slowly to allow their sons more food. Compared to Li, people of my generation have higher standard of living. My family has enough food to eat and we never suffer in hunger. However, my parents will still leave the good food for me and buy me the food I want.
I went to a bonding school. When I went back home on the weekend, my mum would spend hours in the kitchen and make many dishes. All of them were my favourite food. The meals on weekdays, it wouldn’t be as bumper as on weekend. My parents just ate the food that left from weekend or cooked with some cheap ingredients. Li’s and my parents both care a lot about their children. They want the children lead a better life and have better things to live with. The things that share at mealtimes in the family are not only food that can fill our stomachs, but also the love that maintain our life.
Concern from grandparents is unforgettable in our childhood. Grandparents always care about their grandchildren and protect them from being hurt. Once Li broke his mother six precious newly purchased plates by accident, he went to his grandmother and told her what had happened. Then his grandma decided to help Li without hesitation. She took the blame for him and lied to Li’s mother. Li’s grandma covered her beloved grandson and saved Li from trouble because she didn’t want him to be punished. This is how much she loved Li.
My grandparents love me as well. When I was in kindergarten, I lived with my grandparents because my parents were busy at work and they went on business sometimes. My grandparents spent plenty of time in looking after me every day. My grandfather sent me to school and picked me up with his bike regardless of sunny day or rainy day. I sat behind him and saw his hunchback. When he fed me, he put on his glasses and painstakingly took out the bone from the fish first. My grandmother told me stories and stroked my forehead gently before I slept. Sometimes she was too tired and fell asleep while she was telling stories. My grandparents took good care of me. For Li and me, grandparents’ love takes an important part in our life.
Love is mutual. Not only other family members give us love, but we also care about them. When Li was a little boy, he dreamt that he could help his family. He hoped he could turn himself into cricket and save his family from poverty, like the boy in the cricket story. He always worked hard so that he could get out of the village life, like the frog in the well. He would fly a kite to send the gods wishes of his mum’s better situation and his dad’s good health. When Li was in Beijing, he still considered the feelings of his family, even though he was away from them.
He never told his parents how homesick he was, because he didn’t want to cause them sadness and make them worry about him. I have the same thoughts and feelings with Li. I feel like I have the responsibility to do my best and live up to my family’s expectation of me. I hope my parents can be proud of me. When I talk about my life in Australia, I will keep my sadness to myself at times and only share the good things with them. Li and I both love our family so much and we would do something for it.
The love that passing between, the love that the elders give us, and the love that come out from the bottom of our hearts make up simple but eternal love within a family. Familial love is like a strong support to our life. It means a lot to us and we can’t live without it. It is a big felicity that Li and I both have it and we enjoy what it brings to us.
Mao's Last Dancer
- Length: 433 words (1.2 double-spaced pages)
- Rating: Excellent
“Mao’s Last Dancer” is a book about the life of Li Cunxin. Li Cunxin was born into poverty in China under the rule of Mao Ze dung. The book was first published in 2003 and since then has won several awards including the book of the year award. Throughout the novel the composer chronologically cites the life of Li Cunxin and how he felt and where he belonged at certain points in his life.
The purpose of the composer exploring the concept of belonging is to show that certain groups that people belong to differ over the course of their life. The aspects of belonging that the novel deals with are family, community and country. There is also a heavy political aspect in the novel as an individual’s sense of belonging can be influence by the indoctrination and suppression of that individual.
The composer has aimed this text for general reading by all people over the age of ten. However as this publication is the young reader’s edition, it is targeted at young readers. People who may wish to read the book may be able to attain it through mediums such as book stores and libraries etc. Although this publication of the novel is the young reader’s edition, there is a publication aimed at adults.
The composer uses simple words and simple poetic techniques such as metaphors and similes to make the book more effective. Metaphors are used to give the viewer a better understanding of how the composer felt at a certain time. For example, when Li Cunxin enjoyed his stay in America, he told himself that he was “the fish and China is the pond.” From this metaphor we can see how Li felt about China as a fish cannot exist anywhere else other than its pond so like the fish, Li thought he would not be able to live out of China. Another example of a metaphor is when Li refers to his commune as a “deep well.” This metaphor shows us how Li feels trapped in his commune and how it was unlikely for him to ever get out of the situation he was in.
Overall this book has shaped my understanding of belonging as it shows how over Li Cunxin’s life how he has belonged to many different groups.
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It also shows how people react as they realize they are moving from one group to another. For instance at the beginning of the novel, Li would cry himself to sleep when he was at the dance academy, however towards the end, Li embraces the changes he faces as he moves from group to group. Over the course of someone’s life, they will belong to several groups, depending on how this person accepts the change is how they will belong in the next group.